December 2019

Another year gone by. Each seems to pass a bit faster. This being my 70th, it really flew. However, it was a pretty good year and a very good month.

Ever since I can remember, the Sabbathday Lake Shakers have had their annual Christmas Fair the first Saturday in December. This year was bright, chilly and breezy. The fair was, as usual, extremely well attended.

In the shop, I had two projects that were rather small but labor intensive. Several years ago I bought a box full of small, wood drawers at the Union Antique Fair. They’ve been sitting around gathering dust, waiting to be put to use. I finally decided to give them a home, building a case to house them. It took a while to come up with the correct layout, and I ended up having to make a few new drawers. There is nothing more challenging than making a case for existing drawers. The dividers between some are of different dimensions to accommodate the various sizes. The fronts are all of quarter sawn cherry.

Another project was a small toolbox, made of scraps of soft maple, white pine, ash and birds eye maple. It has several layers, sliding trays and movable dividers. Another small but detailed project.

In our free time, we made a few trips to Portland, for shopping, entertainment and to see the decorations.

We alos took a side trip to Popham Beach. The beach is overrun in the summer but wonderfully deserted in December. Scenic and peaceful.

Weather wise, winter arrived on the 21st and we got our first real snow on the 30th. Two days worth of steady snow, for a total of about 13″.

All in all, a good year and a wonderful month. Best wishes to all for a peaceful, successful, and healthy 2020.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , ,

November 2019

November, like March, is one of those months that I could do without. Not much going on outside. It’s that time between the colors of fall and the white stillness of winter. So far, no major snowstorms, just cold, melting, more cold, mud or dust on the road. Frost crystals up close on some of the plants look look like fur.

The pond up the road is frozen, but not yet thick enough to skate on.

November is the time of year when I try to show my appreciation to my customers of the past year, by sending them each a Maine balsam fir wreath.

In the shop, I had several small projects, as well as one I’ve been putting off for decades. In 1974 I made a walnut and marble coffee table, which had a rather rickety base. I finally found some time to properly re-build the base, with slightly thicker legs and rails, and wider braces with through tenons. It’s amazing what 45 years of experience can teach you.

Besides a few thank you items, I made another round stand, the one with the wine bottle shaped post.

I think I’ve made over thirty of these stands. There are two that I make on a regular basis, that to me typify the essence of Shaker understated design and function. True classics.

We also made a trip up to Ellsworth, ME to take the last Snow Glider© to the KoT Gallery. It sits in the window as a really nice seasonal window display. Need a limited edition Snow Glider© for the kids or grandkids? Contact KoT Gallery.

That’s it for this month. Be sure to check out my Instagram site, for fun little bits and pieces that don’t make it into the blog.

C. H. Becksvoort © 2019

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

October 2019

Another busy month when almost nothing got done. I guess when you’re 70 you can slow down. October started with parts for a bed, and several Shaker peg boards.

The Maine craft weekend was early this month, October 5 & 6. It was quite successful, and well attended. Had many friends and fans stop by, to visit, enjoy the cookies, doughnuts and cider, and check out the shop and showroom. Sold a few pieces as well. One of the thrills was the poster from the last Fine Woodworking Live on my shop door.

The following weekend, was the Harvest Festival at the Sabbathday Lake Shaker community. It’s always great fun, and despite the chilly weather the attendance was great. Hard to find a parking spot along the road. My setup was in the Shaker barn.

Fall is definitely on the way. Over the years I’ve planted a few shagbark hickories and black walnut trees, and the tallest on is now almost 20 ft. tall.

We did take a few days off to enjoy fall here in Maine. It is my favorite season. Hiked around Wolf’s Neck State Park,

and Bradbury Mountain State Park. The view from up there is spectacular. You can see the Atlantic on a clear day.

Later this month we had Friends of the Shakers work weekend. We raked, cleaned, put things away for the winter, repaired and a multitude of other chores. Also a wonderful lunch, and a chance to catch up with folks I meet but once or twice a year. Consider joining the group if you’re so inclined.

In the shop I finally completed the king size bed I started at the beginning of the month. A three week cold had me slow down to the point where a 40 hour bed ended up taking 4 weeks.

Hopefully things will pick up next month. Don’t forget to check my Instagram page, for more ongoing photos.

Also, I’m trying to make a bit more space in the showroom, so I have several pieces at half price on the Specials page of my website. If you’ve ever wanted a Becksvoort piece, this might be the right time.

C. H. Becksvoort ©2019

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , ,

September 2019

Fall is definitely here. September is a month of change. We had our first frost on the 19th. Ash trees are loosing their leaves, red maples are in full color, sugar maples are just starting to turn, and the lovely New England asters are in full bloom.

It has been an amazing month for monarch butterflies. We were out recently in an open field with perhaps 1/8 acre of milkweeds. One plant had 4 monarch caterpillars on it and at any one time there were 3 or 4 butterflies in the air. More monarchs than I’ve seen in years. Good luck on the trip to Mexico.

We took our annual vacation on the coast of Maine, mostly in Trenton and Acadia National Park.

One of the highlights was a long walk around Jordan Pond ( after indulging in popovers), along the wooden plank walk. The shoreline is fragile, and Jordan Pond is a water supply, hence the board walk to keep erosion to a minimum.

We also took a side trip to Lamoine State Park, and to the farther side of Acadia, at Schoodic. Schoodic is much less crowded and extremely scenic, with waves crashing on the pink granite. Took side trips to Lubec, and spent a fair amount of time in Ellsworth, a lovely town, once you get off of Route 1

Although September was extremely busy, I don’t have much to show for it. Between working on my son’s house, my daughter’s house, my sister’s house, and our house, I only managed two projects in the shop: a custom wedding gift

…and a custom display case for the New Gloucester Historical Society.

Hopefully, next month will be more productive, furniture wise.

Don’t forget our annual Open House & Studio on October 5 & 6, from 10 am until 4 pm. The will be a book signing (Shaker Inspiration: Five decades of Fine Craftsmanship), tools, wood and a few pieces of furniture (at reduced prices). Also cookies, doughnuts and cider. Stop by to chat and visit. All are welcome.

C. H. Becksvoort © 2019

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , ,

August 2019

August in Maine. Summer is winding down. It’s been real busy. Word is leaking out that I’m considering retirement. True, but… not this year. Maybe next, or the year after. Time to get your order in, the one you’ve been thinking about for the last few years. Be forewarned that I’m no longer building big cases, only taking orders for smaller items. Here are a few examples of what went out of the shop this past month: First a series of five pen & ink drawings my daughter did for the book With The Grain, each tree framed with the wood of that species.

I made a cherry music stand, VII, with the customer’s favorite verse laser engraved (too small to see in the photos).

I’m currently working on a king size low post bed, with nice egg turnings on the top of each post.

Lastly, I finally had the slant top desk dyed and finished by Jon Brandon at East Point Conservation Studio in Brunswick. An amazing job, just look a that tiger strip maple. The brass hardware is from Horton Brasses.

Around the shop this month, I noticed that the red efts were on the move, crossing our dirt road, and looking for places to spend the winter. This little one was only about 1 1/4″ (3.2 cm) long

In our fields and along the road, the early asters and black eyed Susans are in full bloom. Just waiting for the fall asters to make an appearance.

You can see more everyday photos on my Instagram page. Have a look.

C. H. Becksvoort © 2019

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

July 2019

July was one hot month. The rains stopped and the humidity moved in. Summer is in full swing.

In the garden the peonies have gone by and the clematis is in blooming.

In the fields and woods, the black eyed Susans, golden rods and pyrola are in putting on a display.

We did take a few day off for vacations. The first was a one day trip to Swan Island in the Kennebec river. It is a state park, about 4 miles long, and at one time had about 100 residents.

The following weekend we took a trip to Lubec, the easternmost town in the U.S. A most relaxing and enjoyable time. We had our passports and took the bridge to Campobello Island in New Brunswick, Canada. Had lunch overlooking the water.

My belt sander article made an appearance in Fine Woodworking magazine. It looks great, as usual. Thanks AK and FWW.

July is also the time for Open Farm Day in Maine. As usual, I was at the Sabbathday Lake Shaker village, demonstrating and selling books & DVDs. Lots of wonderful people attended, and we had a marvelous time despite the heat.

In the shop, I actually got some work done. A few small projects; a candle holder, and I repaired a yarn winder.

The big project was the slant top desk in tiger maple. It took just over 180 hours. Not one of my biggest pieces, but quite involved with 4 large drawers, 3 medium drawers, 6 tiny drawers, two document drawers 6 pigeon holes, secret compartments, 3 locks and a full assortment of brass hardware.

The desk is now at the finisher’s shop, waiting to be dyed. The customer has chosen the lightest finish on the left. It took a week but the lid hinges finally showed up, so I could complete the desk.

I’ll have a final photo next month with the new finish and all the hardware.

C. H. Becksvoort © 2019

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

June 2019

It doesn’t get much better than June in Maine. Vacationland. this past month was a bit rainy, and everything turned a lush green: lawns, trees, weeds and flowers including ladies slippers and lilacs.

Even the black cherry trees put on a show, although they don’t smell nearly as good as the lilacs.

We had a few business related items going on this month. I took two pieces down to the KoT Gallery in Ellsworth, a 4-arm walnut chandelier and a carved door wall cabinet.

Ellsworth is such a nice town, once you get off of State street and onto Mains street. We had a tasty time at Fogtown brewery.

I tend to take it easy in the summer, and spend a bit more time enjoying friends, family, the garden and Maine. But work still needs to get done. The current big project in the shop is a tiger maple slant top desk. It features 4 large drawers, three smaller drawers, a lid a door, pigeon holes and two document drawers. Locks, hinges and pulls are all solid brass. It will be close to 200 hours all told. Then off to the finisher for maple dye and varnish.

This past week we had a FWW photo shoot on building and fitting the gallery to the slant top desk. Lots of small fussy work, but it all came together, thanks to Anissa’s photo skills. However, all was not work. We managed to get in a few additional photos for an upcoming FWW article on making a Shaker berry basket. For authenticity, we had to go pick, eat and photograph strawberries. We may even get a short interview out of this, thanks to Ben Strano.

C. H. Becksvoort © 2019

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , ,

MAY 2019

May is always gorgeous. This year was no exception. We had our share of rain, actually more than our fair share. It did bring a wonderful display of flowers. The weather never got out of the 70’s, so the blossoms lasted longer than usual.

The birds returned: phoebes, tree swallows, kestrels, and a variety of warblers. We also had the usual assortment of amphibians. Especially noticeable, and enjoyable were the spring peepers. Also, the salamanders made their way to vernal pools.

In early May I had a chance to give a talk at the Hancock Shaker Village in Pittsfield, MA. It is one of my favorite places in Massachusetts, a fully restored Shaker community with that wonderful round stone barn. If you ever get a chance to visit any of the Shaker sites, or even the last existing Shaker community at Sabbathday Lake, by all means do so. There is so much history and something to be learned at each of the sites.

Although I’m trying to take it easy, I still got some shop work done. A small dining table went to Furniture Friends.

the better part of the month was taken up with a 7-drawer chest. The sides and top were constructed of a single, wide, cherry board. It only took 82 hours to make.

One more coat of oil, and it’s on to the next project.

C. H. Becksvoort © 2019

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , ,

April 2019

April did not start out too great. Snow and mud.And more mud, and rain.  Finally the dirty snowbanks began to recede and a few early bulbs began to blossom.  Spring at last.Work in the shop was scant this month.  I missed two weeks with the flu.  I did mange to finish, oil and assemble the king size pencil post bed started in March. I also built a small outdoor bench made of cumaru, known as Brazilian teak (Dipteryx odorata).  The wood is super hard, and I hope to never have to work with it again.  However, it is also extremely decay resistant, so that bench will probably outlast me.The high point of the month was the annual Fine Woodworking Live 2019 gathering in Southbridge, MA.  We had a great lineup of presenters including Matt Bickford, Brian Boggs, Danielle Rose Byrd, Michael Fortune, Peter Galbert, Chris Gochnour, Garrett Hack, Nancy Hiller, Beth Ireland, Rollie Johnson, Joshua Klein, Tom McLaughlin, Steve Latta, Michael Pekovich, Christopher Schwarz, Bob Van Dyke and myself.  I gave the Friday evening opening talk about the Herbie Project.The Saturday banquet keynote address was by Miguel Gómez-Ibáñez, past president of the North Bennet Street School.  His work while president, in moving the school to a new, larger and updated building and establishing a huge scholarship endowment, was really awe inspiring.

All in all a great weekend, thanks to the hard work and great organization of the FWW staff, the presenters, student exhibitors, and attendees.

C. H. Becksvoort © 2019


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged ,

March 2019

March is kind of a transition month in Maine. We go from deep winter to the beginning of spring in a matter of a few days or weeks. There were two snow storms at the start of the month, then … Continue reading

Gallery | Tagged , , , , , ,